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Posted at 3:16 PM ET, 12/ 1/2010

Shakespeare Theatre reports a surplus

By Jacqueline Trescott
Lauren Molina as Cunegonde in Candide. (Bill O'Leary/Washington Post)

Even with most arts groups still struggling to recover from the financial downturn, the Shakespeare Theatre reported Wednesday that its financial status has taken a positive turn.

The theatre received its final audit for the fiscal year of August 2009 to July 2010 this week and ended up with a $400,000 surplus. "We came out of a difficult period. For the first two years we operated the Harmon Center, we had planned deficits and in this third year, we had a surplus," said Chris Jennings, the company's managing director. Jennings also said that the current 2010/2011 season was starting strong.

In fact "Candide" the current production, broke a company record, bringing in the highest advanced sale of any show in Shakespeare's history. Previously, "King Lear" in the 2008/2009 season held that record. "The show is 35 percent ahead of 'King Lear,' and it is tracking 111 percent ahead of 'Twelfth Night' in the 2008/2009 season," Jennings said.

The deficit gap, said Jennings, was closed with a strong boxoffice, donors who maintained their giving, and management steps to curtail spending. At the height of the recession the company trimmed the budget and laid off several employees. The annual budget is now $17.5 million.
Other shows sold well, said Jennings, including the performances of "Henry V" and "Richard II" under the Leadership Repertory program and the world premiere of David Ives' "The Liar."

Their success offset the loss of $200,000 when 5 shows were canceled during last winter's snowstorms. "Despite that we have been successful, even as the economy hasn't fully recovered," Jennings said.

By Jacqueline Trescott  | December 1, 2010; 3:16 PM ET
Tags:  Chris Jennings, Shakespeare Theatre Company, arts and money, theater surplus  
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